MIDLOTHIAN —A parent’s love for a child is nothing short of unconditional, especially when it comes to Tiffany Carra’s son, Dorian, and his struggle with a life-altering disease of Type-One Diabetes.
“This is an autoimmune disorder, and he’s not going to outgrow this,” Carra explained her son’s condition. “His body is physically attacking himself, and you can’t just control it through diet, you have to administer enough insulin depending on what he eats because his body doesn’t make enough.”
By looking at this happy, active six-year-old who considers himself to be a ninja, Carra explained that Dorian’s struggle is an everyday fight, except for when he’s at camp.
“He loves Camp Sweeney, that’s why we’re raising funds to send Dorian there this year,” Carra expressed the reason behind the second annual “Crunch and Sweet Shop and Stroll” fundraiser.
Raising $3,600 to cover a 19-day camp experience dedicated to students with Type-One Diabetes, the Oct. 14 event is jumpstarting Dorian’s pre-registration summer payments with a community fundraiser.
The fundraiser will host nearly 50 vendors from all over the DFW area in an early holiday shopping extravaganza with a bingo-style quarter auction to boot.
"What will happen is that a vendor will stand up with their product, and for every $10 people have to bid a quarter. So say it’s $30, so that’s three quarters and they can do that for each paddle they purchase," Carra explained.
Being Dorian’s second year to attend camp since this past July, Carra expressed how she has already noticed a positive difference in her son’s health and wants to get a head start for next year’s sessions.
“At Camp Sweeney, they not only take care of Dorian physically, but they’re also teaching him that they can live full, productive lives,” Carra recalled. “In fact, Dorian came back with a better blood sugar average by 50 points than when he went in, and we’ve been doing this for six years, so we’re not new to it - and he came back with the best he’s ever had.”
“Dorian has cried six times since I picked him up at the end of June because he loves going to Sweeney,” she chuckled.
Established in 1947 by the Southwestern Diabetic Foundation, Camp Sweeney’s mission is to build a family that can help to support campers through all of the highs and lows of Type-one diabetes.
From learning diabetic control to providing a community that helps prevent depression, Carra goes on to say that Dorian was able to fish, zip line, swim, rock climb, skateboard, paintball and more without explanation of his diabetes.
“My favorite part about camp is all the activities, but definitely not fishing because I didn’t catch any fish. I really like swimming though – I can do it all day,” Dorian conveyed.
“I like that all the kids are diabetic like me,” he added. “Sweeney is where friendships begin and never end.”
“They also do medical questions and learning sessions with a med quiz at the end,” Carra jumped in. “So it’s not just all of these fun activities they’re doing, but they’re learning to live productive lives, but they’re also teaching about diabetes and how to manage it and be healthy.”
“Even though we’re not there with him every day, I can watch the live stream of all the activities they do; I can email him, I can also call his counselors at any time," she detailed. "So they cater to families, and it’s a super awesome camp.
Carra also mentioned that the camp doesn't stop there but has a continual ‘big brother’ with meet updates scheduled throughout the year for students to reconnect before the next summer session.
Because of its success, Camp Sweeney is currently the largest camp for children with diabetes in the world and has served more than 30,000 campers from 10 countries and 40 states over the past 70 years.
According to Everyday Health, Type One Diabetes is commonly known as insulin-dependent diabetes, or juvenile-onset diabetes, and an estimated 29.1 million people in the United States, 9.3 percent of the population have diabetes.
However, of these cases, only 1.25 million were Type-One Diabetes, putting Dorian into a special case with a strict daily regiment.
“What it looks like every day is he wakes up, pricks his finger, tests his blood sugar, and inject insulin. Every carb that enters his mouth has to be counted and medicated for," Carra described. "So basically his pancreas cannot process sugar or eject a steady stream of insulin to keep him regulated."
"If we don’t then it could cause diabetic neuropathy because sugar is like glass, so when it builds up in your bloodstream it can cause inflammation, loss of vision, or infections that are hard to heal from," she recognized. "And people don't realize that being diabetic can get lonely, so camp is a big deal to Dorian and us, and his overall health and growth."
And as the fundraiser nears, Carra invites the community to get involved and join the fun.
“Dorian wants nothing more than to have fun and fit in,” Carra noted. “He wants to be able to run and play without explanation of why he must stop to check his blood sugar or what being low feels like. He wants to be in a place where he is considered normal, so we’re asking the community to help us do just that for these kids with diabetes.”
And the community is responding as the event grew in sponsorships with Pure Romance by Cassy Cox, Reviizen, Margie Weber of Perfectly Posh, Emily Arthur with Paparazzi Accessories, Cheryl Moore an Independent Mary Kay Consultant, DotDotSmile, Rank, and Teresa Stone of Certified Scentsy Vendor.
Other vendors also include Jonie Stoffels with Thirty-One Gifts, Lularoe Susalana Boutique, Amber Rogers with Scentsy, Tiffany Carra of Senegence, Leisha Morris with Matilda Jane Trunk Keeper, and Rachel Davis of 38Stitches.
As for the future through Dorian’s eyes, he mentioned that he wanted to be a camp counselor when he’s older “because you can spend more time at camp.”
“I love Sweeny – I can’t stop talking about it,” he squealed.
“We know that there are diabetics all over Ellis County and this event means so much to one little boy,” Carra emphasized.
“So come support one of Midlothian’s own because it’s a great opportunity to not only support Dorian, but it’s also a great opportunity to support small businesses, find some good deals for Christmas gifts, and hang out with your community,” she finished with a smile.
The Crunchy and Sweet Shop and Stroll with Quarter Auction is scheduled for Oct. 14, with vendors opening booths at 10 a.m. and the quarter auction beginning at 2 p.m. Paddles will be are $5 per person and the event will be held at the Waxahachie Civic Center on 2000 Civic Center Lane, Waxahachie. For more information, visit crunchyandsweet.com/events or call (940)-665-2011.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer